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Old Age Sticks Analysis

An essay anaylzing the poem, in Prezi format to focus on organization.
by Rita McDermott on 2 March 2011

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Transcript of Old Age Sticks Analysis

You+h vs. O1d Ag3 Punctuation and Form in ¨old age sticks¨ By Rita McDermott old age sticks
up Keep
Off
signs)&

youth yanks them
down(old
age
cries No

Tres)&(pas)
youth laughs
(sing
old age

scolds Forbid
den Stop
Must
n't Don't

&)youth goes
right on
gr
owing old Hook When faced with deciphering Tres)&(pas), even the most proficient readers will probably admit to confusion, possibly arguing the text´s legitimacy as English. However, it is in fact English, a carefully crafted line from e.e. cumming´s poem, ¨old age sticks.¨ Thesis In ¨old age sticks,¨ Cummings uses seemingly random punctuation and divisions of words and stanzas to emphasize that youth and old age behave differently.
Argument 1 Argument 2 Conclusion Support 1 Capitalization Lead Typically capitalized letters are used in titles, proper names, or at the beginning of sentences. However, when looking at Old Age Sticks, capital letters are scattered throughout the poem, in the middle of lines, starting words that aren´t normally capitalized. Example 1 For instance, in lines 2 and 3, the words ¨Keep¨ and ¨Off¨ are both capitalized. Explanation Why would Cummings do this? Perhaps it is to connect the two words in order to mimic the appearance of a Keep Off sign. This possible interpretation is supported by the ¨signs¨ on line 4, coming all together to signify Keep Off signs. Example 2 Furthermore, other capitalized words in the poem could also be found on common signs, such as No Trespassing, Forbidden, and Stop. Connection to theme and thesis Considering only the words that Cummings chose to capitalize, his choices seem less random and more related to distinguishing the signs ¨old age sticks up¨ from other ideas. Support 2 Parenthesis Connection to Previous Idea: In addition to scattered capitalization, parentheses are also placed oddly throughout the poem. Example 1 The first parenthesis seems to be facing the wrong way; it is a closed parenthesis in line 3 that has no corresponding open parenthesis. Looking at what would be included in the parenthesis if there was an open parenthesis at the beginning, readers see that ¨old ages sticks up Keep Off signs).¨ Skipping lines until the next parenthesis, an open one, and reading until the following closed parenthesis, the message is ¨old age cries no Tres.¨ Example 2 Example 3 Continuing, ¨Pas.¨¨sing old age schools Forbidden Stop Mustn’t Don´t &¨ Everything within parenthesis pertains to old age. Clarification: Considering that parenthesis contain something, inhibit movement, and Cummings is trying to show the inflexibility of old age, enclosing old age inside the parenthesis emphasized their firmness. Conversely, youth is outside of the parenthesis, free spirited. Connection to theme: Conversely, everything pertaining to youth is outside of parentheses, metaphorically outside of social norms or boundaries. Extension: old age sticks
up Keep
Off
signs

old
age
cries No

Trespas
sing
old age

scolds Forbidden
Stop
Mustn't
Don't

& youth is
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